Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Passengers (2016) - Film Review


*Originally written December 21st, 2016*

I'll be honest, I really enjoyed the first hour of Passengers or so, and I was expecting things to start wrapping up, but then I was made aware that was only half way into it. Then everything dawned on me. This was a complete mess.

I was fairly looking forward to Passengers. Sure, it was based purely on my love of Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence, but nothing could have prepared me for how misguided and creepy this sci-fi romance was.

The relationship between Lawrence and Pratt at the centre of this is deeply misguided, disturbing and flawed. We are meant to feel sorry for Pratt due to his intense lonliness of being stuck in space for so long, which makes him get Jennifer Lawrence involved. I have huge soft-spot for the loveable goofball that is Chris Pratt, but I couldn't excuse what a monstorous decision his character makes here. It took me a little while to see the implications of what he did, but once I did, it made it the most disturbing romance film I've seen since Fifty Shades of Grey.

It's a shame too. I'm a sucker for this simple concept genre films that explore a fairly straight-forward idea, but with an execution this flawed it made it hard to get behind Passengers. I would be lying if I said I didn't have fun with it though. The opening act features only Chris Pratt and the robot bartender played by a scene-stealing Martin Sheen.

It was a fairly ballsy move to not have one of your two main actors selling the film to show up till 40 minutes in, but that's where Passengers shined. When it was simply Chris Pratt slowly growing more and more isolated. We see him make the most of the massive space station, try and find a way to escape, then finally realize this situation is hopeless and Pratt really sells it. He also makes for some very funny scenes, especially between him and Sheen.

The Avalon space station
I'm not saying Lawrence ruins it when she joins. She gives a usually reliable performance, but the writing of her character completely ruins it. Where they end up with her character at the end feels forced and insanely unbelievable based on the events we've seen up to the finale. It was borderline insane.

Another disappoint in the lack of surprises. The trailers pretty much give away anything interesting from the film. There's no twist or unexpected plot developments. It just goes where you expect it to before fizzling out and ending. I'd say the closest thing to a surprise Passengers has up its sleeve is an appearance from an actor which feels like it's meant to be a big reveal, but is in all the trailers so loses its impact.

Chris Pratt and Jennifer Lawrence
While I'd say the direction lacked in sort of energy or uniqueness, it at least does look nice and has some visually interesting stuff. The space station looks like some weird cross between The Shining and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The references to The Shining are pretty clear, including Martin Sheen's bartender android. I was surprised at how big the budget was for this thing, considering it only has about 4 actors in it for the most part, but there are some standout visuals that reminded me of the much better Sunshine. The most memorable thing in terms of visuals had to be the zero gravity swimming pool scene, which was one of the more creative things here.

Passengers is a huge disappointment. A huge let-down from the sci-fi romance I was expecting. I wanted a charming and heartfelt romance in a sci-fi setting, instead what I got was a creepy, misguided and manipulative film that wastes the talents of Lawrence, Pratt and its concept.

4/10 Dans

Passengers is out now on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD now inthe UK
Watch the trailer below:

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